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Saturday, September 29, 2012

Aquaman (Vol.8) #0 - Nov. 2012

Comics Weekend "Underwater" by Geoff Johns, Ivan Reis, Joe Prado, Oclair Albert, Andy Lanning, and Rod Reis.

We take a month off from "The Others" storyline for an extended flashback, showing us how young Arthur Curry first learned who he really is and where he comes from.

On his death bed, Arthur's father tells him to go find his mother--who is still alive--and tell her that he never stopped loving her. Arthur is holding his father's hand as he slips away. Afterwards, we revisit the moment where Arthur, tired of being hounded by the media, leaps into the water, in a search for his past:
Arthur shocks himself by instinctively being able to communicate with the shark, sending it away, leaving him unharmed. After resurfacing, he spies a small motorboat being tossed about in a raging storm.

Just as the boat is about to crash onto the shore, it is lifted into the air, keeping it from smashing into bits:
The next day, Arthur talks with the two people he rescued, a father and daughter. Arthur reveals who he is, and who he's looking for. The father says he's heard rumors of Atlantis actually existing, and of a man who claims to be from there, last seen living off the coast of Norway. The man's name is Vulko.

Arthur arrives at Vulko's door, and is greeted like, well, a king:
Vulko says "We have a lot to talk about", and he's right he tells his future king the whole story: that his mother, Atlanna, is dead, how she met Arthur's father, how she returned to Atlantis against her will to protect her husband and son. 

While back in Atlantis, she was forced to marry a captain of the Atlantean Guard, and that they produced a son:
Vulko bestows Arthur with some of the ancient Atlantean totems, and tells Arthur his rightful place is on the throne, to overthrow the violent, despotic rule of Orm.

Vulko then takes Arthur to Atlantis, where the young man immediately feels like he is home:
...to be continued!

Aside from some wobbly bits of plotting (the guy Arthur saves just happens to know about Atlantis, and Vulko, and where he might be? What a random piece of happenstance!), I enjoyed this issue immensely. I like how Geoff Johns has kept the basic dynamic of Arthur and Orm, but flipped it--instead of having a father in common, they now have a mother. And Arthur (eventually) taking the throne away from Orm is a perfectly dramatic reason for a blood feud. I'm really looking forward to the New 52 version of Ocean Master!

On the art front--as I have said before, the team of Reis/Prado/Reis always find one or two ka-pow moments in each issue, and they do that again here: I love the full-page of Aquaman face-to-mouth with an impossibly large shark, and then the final two-page spread, our first glimpse of the new Atlantis. It's a gorgeous piece of art, all by itself, but it works even better as the payoff to the whole issue. We've heard about Atlantis, now we get to see it. Man, am I going to miss these guys on this book--if the boys are trying to gradually ramp down the artistic quality so we'll miss them less, they are failing miserably.

One final note: this issue features a New 52 Who's Who page on Aquaman:
I mentioned back in the Aquaman #7 recap that I though that one-page shot of Aquaman tugging the storm-tossed ship to safety was probably the single finest Aquaman image of the last decade, that it would be an iconic shot, used over and over again when talking about the New 52 Aquaman. And what piece is used as an inset on the Who's Who page? Bingo.


Flodo Span said...

This was a great issue. Johns has really thought about Aquaman's life before Justice League. I was ok with the rescued sailors plot reveal. In the following panels Arthur explains he has been combing the seas for months so this doesn't take place immediately after his father's funeral. Maybe it's not even the first time he paused in his search to rescue a floundering vessel.

Anonymous said...

I thought the issue was a bit flat and rushed, it really could have been a two parter easily. It built up to him returning to Atlantis but then nothing, the next issue will be back to the Others storyline so they will have to do another flashback story to finish this up and reveal Orm

aquaman said...

I have mixed feelings on this one. I agree it has some amazing moments but overall feel it is rushed and loose. The art is also that. The cover image of Arthur is weird. It has happened on and off. I have found the artwork overall a mixed bag. Sometimes I am floored by the amazing images and then i turn the page and it looks really crappy. This cover is an example for me. The face is just wired. I have found the full front, flat face shots drawn really oddly. I still like Aquaman's silver age origins (Adventure Comics 260) my fav. I like his mother dying and his struggle to leave a father behind to discover his true roots a much more compelling story. Seems this one was ripped right from that god awful pilot the CW did. Not original thinking on the part of the writer...sorry, IMHO

Joe Slab said...

Strong opening, breathtaking final poster page, but the middle sagged. Curious why Johns was so exposition-heavy rather than showing Vulko & Arthur exploring Atlantis and relaying the story in flashbacks along the way....Did we really need to stay in Vulko's shack for that many pages?

Also, Thomas NEVER told Arthur's his mother's name? That's a bit odd.

Joe Slab said...

I did like that Johns flipped the script and had Atlanna rescue Tom, rather than the other way around. Less stereotypical and makes much more sense in the overall scheme.

Jorge PR said...

The good thing is it makews more sense for Arthur and Orm to be half-brothers on their mother side rahter than their fater, because this way Orm has legitimate reasons to claim Atlantis as his kingdom.

Ryan Daly said...

@Jorge - Legitimate claim to the throne of Atlantis, AND legitimate aquatic superpowers that don't have to be explained through some other kind of sorcery.

@Joe - Maybe Tom Curry never knew her name. We don't really know how much time they spent together. Besides, if a beautiful mer-woman rescued me from drowning, and then loved me up, and then nine months later dropped a baby in my lap, I don't think her name would necessarily make my Top 10 list of questions to ask her. But that's me.

This was another beautiful issue, with some amazing panels and colors. I don't think the script was flat, just sparse, and not necessarily well balanced. The first half is all raw emotion and iconic imagery, and then the last half is all exposition. It could have maybe used a different structure, but as a #0/origin-style issue, it worked.

And I guess I was wrong in my prediction that Ocean Master would be a resurrected version of the Dead King or Doctor Shin.

Kryschenn said...

On the whole, I was quite satisfied with this issue. I'm still having a little trouble reconciling Arthur's earlier statement that he was 13 the first time he laid eyes on an Atlantean with him doubting the existence of Atlantis now, but I suppose he could have convinced himself that maybe he remembered wrong back when he was a kid.

And now, here is the "shipper" in me talking. Arthur and Mera are, hands down, my favorite couple in comics. The one mention we get of Mera in this issue is in the Who's Who page, where we read that Arthur has recently returned to his childhood home "with his amphibian mate Mera by his side." I've been noticing that they've used a lot of ambiguous terms in describing their relationship - His "mate" Mera or his "love" Mera, etc. I want someone to prove me wrong here, because I can not think of one time since the relaunch where they've actually, specifically referred to her as his "wife" Mera. It's been bugging me for a while now ... in the New 52, has it officially been established that they are married or hasn't it? I would be very disappointed if they aren't (yet), because I'm admittedly a bit old-fashioned that way.

Shellhead said...

Common law marriage, probably.
Official marriage has probably been retconned away (and I'm actually okay with that, since it'll do away with the whole Aquababy murder plotline).

Len said...

Really liked the art in this one. The cinematic start with the titles is something I haven't seen before. I was reading it digitally so I didn't have any warning for that giant shark reveal, actually made me jump as I was reading.